MP3 Player for the Elderly - Advice please from Ageing Warriors

#1
I'm turning to you, ARRSE's senior users, for advice. My dad is having problems sleeping partly because of medical issues. I recommended speaking books to him as a pleasant means of relaxing and falling asleep of an evening (I have been using Amazon's Audible service as a source of foreign language books to help improve my German and am really impressed by speaking books, something I'd previously only tried in passing while driving).

So, back to the point, I lent by dad the ARRSE iPod Touch, bought for testing the iOS apps, for him to try out Audible and speaking books and he enjoyed it, but he finds the iPod very awkward to use. Long sightedness, not so nimble fingers and a lack of touchscreen experience and general IT skills make the thing near unusable for him.

Can anyone recommend a currently available MP3 player, ideally that has the ability to run speaking book apps, that is suitable for a near-70 year old? Big buttons, bright display etc.
 
#4
Thanks - unfortunately the Archos isn't compatible with Audible. I might buy one anyway and get speaking books from elsewhere - the library service for example, but will wait and see if anyone has any recommendations that are on the Audible list of supported devices.
 
#5
I'm turning to you, ARRSE's senior users, for advice. My dad is having problems sleeping partly because of medical issues. I recommended speaking books to him as a pleasant means of relaxing and falling asleep of an evening (I have been using Amazon's Audible service as a source of foreign language books to help improve my German and am really impressed by speaking books, something I'd previously only tried in passing while driving).

So, back to the point, I lent by dad the ARRSE iPod Touch, bought for testing the iOS apps, for him to try out Audible and speaking books and he enjoyed it, but he finds the iPod very awkward to use. Long sightedness, not so nimble fingers and a lack of touchscreen experience and general IT skills make the thing near unusable for him.

Can anyone recommend a currently available MP3 player, ideally that has the ability to run speaking book apps, that is suitable for a near-70 year old? Big buttons, bright display etc.
If your dad suffers from long-sightedness, his case is not dissimilar to that of my my mother-in-law (89 tomorrow!) who is gradually going blind through dry-related macular degeneration, is very hard of hearing and whose brain is seizing up. She suffers from sleeplessness as well and has a Roberts Elise FM/DAB radio to listen to during the night. Unfortunately, her reduced hearing (and a reluctance to wear her hearing aids) ensures that everyone else in the house also knows what's on Radio 5 Live at 3 am.

My wife scoured the net for suitable talking book players but could not find anything which was simple to operate and had large buttons (MIL has fingers like sledge-hammers) until she contacted RNIB. They loan out a special talking book with aforesaid large buttons, etc, at an annual cost of £70. This includes the provision of 6 audio discs: when she has listened to 2 of the discs, she can send them back and they will send 2 replacements. We've not managed to persuade her to get another talking book for her bedside yet (she can afford it), so her nocturnal radio listening continues to dominate the house. But there we are - old people become more resistant to change - they just don't want to consider new ideas. But we may succeed one day.

Whatever, contact RNIB - they may be able to provide what your dad needs.
 
#6
Thanks very much. Your suggestion led me to an up-to-date review of MP3 players by the RNIB:

Accessible digital music players - RNIB

I'd found other pages but years out of date. This one is from May 2012 so well worth a look through. Obviously I'll post should I come up with the ideal widget just in case anyone else happens across this thread.
 
#7
#8
One of those knock-off chinese android tablets would actually do the job me finks...large, bright screen, compatible with plenty of apps (probably this Audible one too). Plays mp3 of course too. It is obviously touchscreen, but the buttons would be larger than that of an ipod so less of an issue.
 
#9
#12
Thanks for all the feedback. A tablet is overkill and would run up against IT/Gadget dislike. My dad uses a computer but would much prefer something simple when it comes to just playing books. We'll see how he gets on with the Zen Stone. At £20 there's little to lose in trying it. Well, £20 in fact, less whatever you can sell it on for. With a tablet there is app install, crashes, less battery life, setting up wi-fi and so on to worry about. Fine for me (a very impressed Nexus 7 owner), but not so good for my dad.

Many libraries have an audio book MP3 service called Overdrive that comes recommended by Bad CO, eg: Devon Libraries .

I'll bear Playaway in mind if the Zen Stone isn't a success.
 
#13
Went for one of these: 4GB Creative Zen Stone Plus MP3 Player with FM Radio & Voice Recorder 4 GB 5390660150715 | eBay on recommendation of the RNIB. Seems to be simple, proper buttons and plays Audible files. I'm sure missing plenty of the useful functions of the iOS app, but better it's usable than fully featured.
Glad you seem to have found something suitable. Sadly, most of these machines are light-years beyond my MIL - we have to stick to the tried-and-tested one-hand, one-finger prod affairs. Wonder if we'll be much different when we're that age - the technology may well be incredibly beyond us.
 
#15
Now I'm worried that I've given you a bum steer. It clearly has a poxy tiny display that wasn't there in the slightly older version discussed on the RNIB site, but I'm hoping that you don't need to use it. We'll see. Since this has sparked a bit of interest I'll post a quick review once my dad tries it out.
 
#16
How about just a humble transistor radio? If left in between frequencys on the AM band it becomes a handy little 'white noise generator' which some sleepless types find very soothing & soporific (unless there is lightning about).
Worked for Mrs Balls old mum anyhow & of course - dead easy to set up & use for the older types.
 
T

Tremaine

Guest
#17
Now I'm worried that I've given you a bum steer. It clearly has a poxy tiny display that wasn't there in the slightly older version discussed on the RNIB site, but I'm hoping that you don't need to use it. We'll see. Since this has sparked a bit of interest I'll post a quick review once my dad tries it out.
I hope the Player will be suitable for your Dad, and that its buttons/ease of use will be up to the job. My own eyesight's not great these days but it seems ideal for music and audio books. I'm pretty sure it wasn't a bum steer but as you say, Boss, we'll wait for the road tests.
 

Grumblegrunt

LE
Book Reviewer
#18
I listen to audio books on my laptop by the bed with headphones or aloud if its just me, got gb of files even reduced to 48k wma files there is a lot.

my dad got exited when I mentioned audio books last time I was up then started sulking when I said it was a laptop thing as I cant get him to turn his on.

I'd buy him a kindle if they had a better audio player.
 
T

Tremaine

Guest
#19
Ref the Creative Zen Stone Plus 4GB. For me, this Player is good news and is better than the iPod Shuffle.

My Zen Stone Plus 4GB refurbished EBay purchase at £20 turned up here yesterday. And this is one tiny MP3 player I love, so far. With built in radio and voice recorder, the gadget is light, black, and compact at 21 grams. The Zen Stone Plus 4GB has adequate memory capacity and uses USB 2.0. Ideal as a viable portable Player and storage device if you don't need a bigger gadget for Podcasts, Audible, and MP3 files. Also good for voice memos or other microphone recordings. It works well with my Windows 7, it was easy to flash upgrade, and nothing's bricked it yet.

And there are downloads from Creative, to update the Zen Stone Plus Firmware and other stuff at Creative Worldwide Support

I've loaded Podcasts and MP3s for study and transferred stuff over the Laptop and with Creative Media Lite Software: How-to use Creative Media Lite

The audio formats supported are: MP3, WAV, WMA, Audible. Features include Screen, FM radio, stopwatch, time & date display, customisable EQ, microphone.

Gadget Shoe review : "It measures 55.6 mm (width) x 12.8 mm (depth) x 35.4 mm (length), and weighs 21 grams" . It compares well to the iPod shuffle. The bright (adjustable contrast) display is fine indoors, and for its size the thumb panel works well for me but I have to look closely at the screen and settings. The Creative Zen Stone Plus 4GB has decent sound, it's loud enough and it has a decent bass output. The ear plugs supplied are nothing special but they're functional, and they can be replaced.

With good eyesight, the tiny screen just about gets by, but it is bright, and easy for me with aided vision. Not so good in sunlight

Back to the point of the thread: The Creative Zen Stone Plus 4GB may be okay for the elderly or Luddites, and approaching middle age but owning the Galaxy S2, IPod 64 GB and not bad with ICT, I found the Creative Zen Stone Plus 4GB fairly intuitive and easy to learn. Skipping tracks, volume control and stop/ pause is easy, using the dimpled Zen Stone Plus thumb buttons. I showed the Creative Zen Stone Plus 4GB to my Father in Law (he's 79). His reaction was, "it's nice but it's a bit small and the buttons are a bit fiddly. I need my reading glasses for that screen but I daresay I might get used to it ". I suppose it all depends on the individual how they get on with the Player. I only use this for studies and occasional music, easily sent to the Player from Windows 7.

Okay, I had to look up how to turn it on **mong ** but there's an instructions page here: Creative Worldwide Support > ZEN Stone Plus 4GB

Amazon Reviews here: Amazon.co.uk: Customer Reviews: Creative Zen Stone Plus 4GB Black

4GB ZEN Stone Plus Sticks It To iPod Shuffle - News - Trusted Reviews

Update. Had this Zen Stone Plus for a week now and a few things have cropped up, since it arrived.
The product can be found online at Creative ZEN Stone Plus | MP3 Players

The Zen Stone Plus has a tiny screen display and its contrast works fine indoors, but in bright sunlight... forget it.
Also, I found these guides with everything you need to know: http://www.brickies.net/wiki/_media/manuals:zen-stone-plus-users-guide.pdf
There's an in depth User guide here: GETTING STARTED WITH*ZEN STONE PLUS

The software lets you rip CD's, it manages tracks and content well, and Creative say the Zen Stone Plus plays Audible format. Audible content refers to spoken audio programs such as audio books that you can purchase online. To transfer Audible content to your player, download AudibleManager at Download a Free Audio Book | Audible Free Trial Offer for Creative Customers and see the User Guides.

In summary this is a good and versatile, light and compact entry level portable media MP3 Player at a low price. Great when walking the dog or prone with popcorn. It's also robust, fine for kids and clumsy folks. The sound quality surprises for its size and if you buy decent "In Ear" phones, you'll not be disappointed. If this gadget's too small for you or the more infirm or short sighted punter, I'd think a much larger screen and buttons more appropriate (Creative have a good range including the larger ZEN Mozaic EZ100).
 

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Grumblegrunt

LE
Book Reviewer
#20
How about just a humble transistor radio? If left in between frequencys on the AM band it becomes a handy little 'white noise generator' which some sleepless types find very soothing & soporific (unless there is lightning about).
Worked for Mrs Balls old mum anyhow & of course - dead easy to set up & use for the older types.
I was hit by a car when I was 9, smashed up but nothing broken so let home as blood clots hadn't been invented then. 1st night I'd fallen asleep watching a pre remote tv and it cycled to the tone then static - screaming wailing shouting all to no avail, couldn't move so trapped.

I know what those psy-ops victims feel like or harry palmer in ipcress. :)

those playaways only hold the one book, lots second hand from the states and in theory you can upload your own stuff onto them but they arent designed as an mp3 player as such.
 

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